Social Media Silence

One thought guided me during 15 years of Internet consulting work: If you don’t have anything useful to say, DON’T SAY ANYTHING.


Evidence of the wisdom of that often-ignored advice can be found across the landscape these days.

So the silence emanating from this Web site recently was intentional. I was working on a lot of things, but there was no progress to report … so I didn’t say anything.

I now have two announcements:

  1. I sent the edited and proofed manuscript of my Viet Nam memoir to the designer this week. has created covers and interior designs for more than 3,000 published works. I’m excited to see the design concepts they come up with for HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos. I should have them in two weeks, and I’ll be asking for input.
  2. I expect to release the self-published HOTEL CONSTELLATION on January 30, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam. My book isn’t about Tet, but Tet changed everything about the war in Indochina, and I think it’s appropriate.

Now that I’ve progressed to this point, I’ll be posting more frequently. Because I have something to say (at last).

Hemingway on Writing

This quotation from Ernest Hemingway’s interview with the Paris Review in its Spring 1958 issue struck a chord:

 It is hard enough to write books and stories without being asked to explain them as well.


Publication Decision: A Realization

Publishing a book requires taking thousands of tiny steps, bare-footed and blind-folded, over a rough blacktop road littered with tacks.

— Me, Today (expletives deleted)

Quote me on that.

Inching toward a go-no go decision on self-publishing the memoir of my two years in Southeast Asia during the Viet-Nam war.

Now I wonder, of course, if the title is right: HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos.


Fits for me, but I’ve already read it (dozens of times). Perhaps it doesn’t say enough to the potential reader. And does anyone know that Laos was part of the larger “Viet-Nam war”?

So maybe it should be: HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos and Viet-Nam.

That’s really long. I could shorten it to HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos and & Viet-Nam.

Shorter still would be HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos and & Viet-Nam.

That wouldn’t be totally accurate since it’s not an expose or pure history. And I liked the Hotel Constellation link, since I practically lived there. But maybe that’s too touristy.

Maybe call it “Secret War”? Nope, literally hundreds of Secret War titles on Amazon.

“Hidden War”? Far fewer Amazon titles, but still this is not just history.


Ah, well.

Also working on metadata, keywords, BISAC book categories , ISBNs (Got ’em but have to register), Library of Congress registration and copyright. Also need a cover designer, interior designer, converter, distributor …

Someone once said of publishing a book that it’s like walking on tacks. What a wise man.

Viet-Nam Replayed: ‘Hanoi Jane’ and Me

The Washington Post jumped on Ken Burns’ Viet-Nam remembrance band wagon yesterday with a front-page piece about “Hanoi Jane” Fonda.

For the forgetful (old) and very young, Fonda was an actress from a well-known acting family (viz. her father Henry Fonda and brother Peter Fonda) who became the face of radical opposition to the Viet-Nam War in the late 1960s and the early ’70s.

She traveled to North Viet-Nam in July 1972 and was photographed at the controls of an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down U.S. war planes. It did not make her popular with anyone, that I recall.

What you don’t know about the incident is that I was the first Western journalist to interview her after her trip. I was trying to earn a living as a journalist in Laos when her plane from Hanoi landed in Vientiane, the Laotian administrative capital. I met her on the tarmac, and my buddy, Don Ronk, snapped several pictures of me interviewing her on the run.

Here’s my recollection from my unpublished memoir of that time, HOTEL CONSTELLATION: Notes from America’s Secret War in Laos.

At the end of July, I experienced the high point of my journalistic career in Laos. Jane Fonda, the movie actress and anti-war activist, landed at Wattay Airport on the weekly flight from Hanoi. She had spent two weeks in North Viet-Nam posing for propaganda photos and was en route to Paris on her way back to the U.S. I met her on the tarmac as she stepped off the Soviet Aeroflot aircraft and dogged her steps into the terminal during the flight layover. She wore a three-quarter length sleeved Lao top and black peasant pajama bottoms and sandals. Even without makeup, she was Hollywood beautiful, her blonde hair blowing freely in the wind. While Ronk photographed us, I pestered her with question after question about her activities in the North, including a photo taken of her sitting at an anti-aircraft gun. She politely refused to answer every question. She said she was holding an international press conference in Paris; I understood that no AP stringer in Laos was going to scoop that.

I didn’t care. I had met someone famous, and I was going to write about it. My brief story probably served to alert AP that she had left the country and was bound for France. This is the text of my entire cable:


“associated tokyo

“haase 01945 vientiane 22/7

 “jane fonda cma american actress etantiwar activist cma late saturday afternoon left hanoi etarrived vientianes wattay airport for thirty minute stopover on first leg of long trip back to united states via moscow et paris para miss fonda cma wearing black silk vietnamese trousers cma refused to comment on her trip to north vietnam saying she will hold press conference in paris para an outspoken opponent of vietnam war miss fonda has been accused of treason by american congessman for her activities in north vietnam during last two weeks endit

“David L. Haase

“carte de presse 274

“hotel constellation”

That turned out to be one of the last cables I ever wrote from Laos.

Here is a screen grab from the photo section of the manuscript. Notes the pen and pad in my shirt pocket, and stop staring at the sideburns.

Jane Fonda and me